By Matt Hearnden

“What’s, like, the one technique… to just… blast through and really change?”

“There is no fucking technique!”

She was pretty, and shy, and sweet. We said good morning, we said good night, we confessed.

I wouldn’t have hurt if we’d never spoken again.

And yet, every morning, I thought, “I suppose I’d better say hello.”

And then I’d think, “what am I doing?”

I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop. I’d talk to her and be kind to her and want her to choose her real self over her shyness.

It was something to do.

“Don’t just do something. Sit there.”

I’d forgotten that.

All I thought when someone senior came into the room was “ok, try to impress them.”

How far above me had I put them?

I was eating healthy every day, I was lifting weights every day, and I was almost falling asleep at my desk every day.

Pretending is tiring.

Every day was forced. My job, my life, my projection.

I was unhappy.

I took shot after shot. I made shot after shot.

The fact they didn’t like me was nowhere to be felt.

Not like those other nights, where I hesitated, and held back, and did whatever I thought they wanted me to do.

Not like travelling to games, where I’d put my headphones in and listen to confidence audiobooks so I didn’t have to feel them ignoring me.

Not like in the locker room, where I tried to be invisible.

That night was different.

I’d forgotten the saying “don’t just do something. Sit there.”

It was only when I kept speaking to her out of guilt, when I kept trying to help her without her asking, when I kept doing the things I didn’t want to do, that I felt dull enough to just sit there.

Silent spells listen.

Before, I’d heard myself. Now, I listened.

“Stop this.”

I did.

Curling up on my bed let me escape the unhappiness, momentarily, but I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life using that as a cure.

I was past pain and into numbness.

“No. I won’t do this any more.”

I didn’t.

That night was different because I became unconscious and let the real me shine.

What they wanted, what they thought of me, what they said about me wasn’t important.

I was important.


Have I told you enough stories?

Can you see why he said, “there is no fucking technique?”

I decided to change because I wanted to change.

Because I deserved more than settling.

Because I wanted more than pain.

Because I decided I was important.

I knew I was settling.

I knew I was choosing to curl up on my bed.

I knew I was giving my power to other people.

I knew it all.

I pretended I didn’t.

Because I was terrified.

Terrified I couldn’t do better than settling.

Terrified I wasn’t more than someone who curled up in bed.

Terrified to say “no” to them and “yes” to me.

But that wasn’t me.

I knew it wasn’t.

I stopped.

Because I knew, in my real heart, in the realest me, I was more.

There’s no technique.

Image: Angelina Litvin

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